How To Travel As A Student (Yes, It’s Possible!)


If you’re wondering who that frazzled girl at the airport was, it was probably me. You know the one — that girl wearing three jackets, sneakers tied to her backpack, camera(s) draped around her neck, repacking her bag in the middle of check-in. Let’s just say when I came home after eight months of interning abroad in Cape Town, I couldn’t keep myself from bringing the whole country with me.

Let me give you some background before I tell you how I found the bag that solved all my problems. (Spoiler alert: it’s from TOM BIHN!)

Let’s talk Student to Student

As a student, I can relate to the “save money at all costs” deal. Why pay for an overweight bag when you can just wear all of your clothes on the plane? (A word of caution: this plan backfires when you a) exit the plane in Dubai in 105 degree heat, or b) sprint a half marathon through the Heathrow airport to make a connecting flight.)

I have slept in airports, endured the occasional 24-hour layover, and taken every mode of public transportation from rickshaw to pickup truck to save a bit of cash. Seeing the world on a budget is possible, but it sometimes means sacrificing small comforts.

When I got to college, all I wanted was to see the world. With graduation on the horizon, I realize I have spent almost as much time abroad as I have on campus in Boston, somehow visiting 5 continents and 25 countries during my time here.

How did I manage this? First, I picked a major that encouraged global experiences (international affairs). With a few scholarships and a bit of saving, I was able to study abroad twice and do an eight-month internship at a social enterprise in South Africa. 

The big reason for crossing so many countries off my bucket list is that in 2015, I was awarded the opportunity of a lifetime to travel the world as the first “Global Officer” for the president of my university (sort of like a student ambassador). No one had ever done this job before, and I was told to let my imagination run wild. My mission was to build global opportunities for students and document stories of people around the world on my blog – pretty sweet deal.

This January, I packed my bags and set off for the one place I have always dreamed of. A place that would push me to limits of my comfort zone I didn’t even know existed: India.

Packing for the Un-packable

I had no clue how to pack for this six-month journey. What do you pack for four seasons and occasions that require everything from beachwear to evening attire? After great deliberation, I did it: one suitcase, a small duffel bag, and a carry-on backpack, all at the maximum weight limit. 

After three months traveling all over Asia, I hopped over to Boston for a few days. At this point, I had lugged my 25 kg suitcase through 12 airports and many, many flights of stairs. I had endured enough silent judgment from backpackers at hostels with 1/8 of what I was carrying. Enough was enough. I shed ten kilos of unnecessary stuff and left for two months in South America to work on bringing my Spanish from “embarrassingly bad” to “mildly acceptable.”

Things were better, but I still wasn’t happy. All my zippers were stuck, my suitcase was ripping at every seam, and both of the wheels were jammed. I was stopping at home again before my final six weeks on the road and I was determined to leave again with just a backpack.

The Search Was Over

When I came across the Aeronaut 45 in my search for a sturdier replacement, I was intrigued, but I had my doubts. It was everything I was looking for, but I wasn’t sure it would be big enough for my last two months on the road.

I couldn’t have been more wrong. This bag is magical. It’s like Mary Poppin’s handbag: there is always more space. Every pocket allows for quick access to your essentials at the airport and the TB packing cubes fit snugly into each compartment like puzzle pieces. I fit 1 packing cube backpack, 1 large packing cube, and a small organizer cube, all packed to the brim in the main compartment with extra room to spare. Amazing!

I don’t know who thought about turning a packing cube into a backpack, but it is genius. Saving space, staying organized, AND traveling in style.

One of my favorite accessories is the 3D clear organizer cube. Going through airport security was a breeze and the bag even has a little hook to hang up my toiletries in the bathroom. I’ve left enough toothbrushes in hotel rooms, so I absolutely love this idea.

Travel Tips I Live By

It took some thought, but I managed to fit everything I needed into my TB bag, including two cameras, clothes for every occasion, and yes, six pairs of shoes. Here are my three golden rules for packing:

1) One of everything. Not two. One. Especially if you are traveling solo, no one will realize you’ve worn the same shirt every day for 10 days. [Laundry is encouraged]
2) De-clutter. That means taking those extra credit cards out of your wallet, cleaning out your make-up case and getting rid of all those little trinkets that suck up space. The little things make a huge difference.
3) Need or want? Can you survive without it temporarily? If it isn’t a necessity like clothes, shoes, or a toothbrush, leave it home.

You would be right to think that my experience is nothing like how normal students travel on a budget, but before this, I was in those shoes. Between this trip and many others, I’ve learned a few tricks and tips that help me save money, pack like a pro, and travel like a sane human being.

Packing aside, I will leave you with one last bit of advice that I think every wishful explorer should be mindful of. Expect to make a few mistakes while traveling and realize that no problem is ever too big. I’ve hit one or two, or ten bumps in the road, but I’ve never considered the prospect of losing a few dollars or missing a flight as a reason to stay home. While I wish you all the best on your travels, I also believe that every mishap is an opportunity to learn and reflect on who we are and what we’re made of at our core.

Cherish every experience, stay positive, and keep exploring.

Caitlin Morelli is a senior at Northeastern University who recently returned from a six-month trip around the world as Northeastern’s first Global Officer. To learn more about this unique position, visit her website or follow her on Instagram. Caitlin is passionate about social entrepreneurship and sustainability and loves discovering, cooking, and eating new foods.

Road Tripping with Dog

He’s less than sixteen inches tall, but my corgi Titus manages to get around—in fact, he’s my favorite road trip buddy. I did some quick math, and figured that over the last twelve months, we’ve logged over 9,000 miles together, all by car.

We’re on the road right now, driving from our home in the Midwest through the Southwest, then up through California to visit family in the Pacific Northwest before heading back again.

Titus has actually done a Midwest-West Coast road trip before, so this time we were determined to experience new things. Along the way, he has sampled carne adobado in Albuquerque (most toothsome!), gazed at the natural wonders in the Petrified Forest (deep canyon!), and gone swimming in the Pacific Ocean (did not drown!).

So far, though, the highlight of this trip was visiting Rosie’s Dog Beach in Long Beach, California, for the Summer 2015 SoCal Corgi Beach Day. Titus was just one of over 800 corgis in attendance. Feel free to let that sink in for a second. Eight. Hundred. Corgis.


Corgi Beach Day is a quarterly event that has grown in leaps and bounds since its inception in 2012. In three short years, the gathering has grown from a dozen corgis to several hundred. A true grass-roots phenomenon, Corgi Beach Day has an active Facebook group and has been covered numerous times in both local and national news.

While the event is free, there is excellent swag to buy. Proceeds benefit Queen’s Best Stumpy Dog Rescue, a North Hollywood nonprofit rescue and foster program for corgis and corgi mixes. This summer, attendees could also participate in a hashtag campaign to help donate up to 500 pounds of dog food to the rescue (you can read more about it here).

Since it was for a good cause, we timed our arrival in California to coincide with the festivities. We arrived bright and early at Rosie’s on the morning of Saturday, July 25. After we found a good patch of sand, had a dip in the ocean, and picked up our Beach Day T-shirts, we watched the corgis arrive in droves.

There was mingling. There was dancing. There was frolicking. It was like being at Woodstock, with less music and psychedelics and way more corgis.

I don’t think it had ever occurred to us to plan an entire road trip around a canine social event, but when we considered it, why not? A pilgrimage to Corgi Beach Day was as good of a reason as any, and every day has been a reminder of how much I enjoy traveling with Titus.

Of course, I’m fortunate that he’s a champion road tripper: he rides happily in his crate (aka the Corgi Castle); he can go several hours without a pit stop since he has a bladder of steel; he loves the novelty of hotels, especially the automatic doors that open as he approaches.

Sure, there are places we can’t go because of dog restrictions, and we have to make sure he gets enough rest and exercise. But when you think about it, it’s no different than being attentive to the needs and limitations of any travel companion. And he never complains about the music or podcasts I choose, so there’s definitely give and take.

By the time you read this, we will have traveled another 3,100 miles, and I know that we’ll start looking forward to the next long drive the minute we get home. The ability to travel is an amazing thing, made that much better when it’s shared with a best buddy. As long as he’s around, we’ll always be able to find a road.


Since we travel so much, I’ve put together a list of things I like to have on hand to ensure total corgi comfort. If you’re traveling with your dog, this list may provide a starting point for your own packing list, although there are certainly going to be some differences depending on where you’re going, the age of your dog, and the time of year. If I’ve overlooked one of your must-haves, be sure to share it with us in the comments.

Titus’s Road Trip Packing List

    • Containment: We keep everything in a Small Shop Bag.
    • Food: If you’re feeding kibble, you can obviously pack it into anything handy, like a zip-top bag or a canister. For short trips or times we need to feed on the run, I often bring along pre-portioned bags so I don’t need to guesstimate. We’ve found a travel food container that has built-in bowls for food and water; you could also use lightweight travel bowls or collapsible bowls if space is a priority.
    • Water: Especially during the summer, it’s important to have drinking water. I bring along at least one gallon of tap water from home since I know Titus’s system is accustomed to it.
    • Treats and snacks: We keep a baggie of dog treats in the car and also in our pack if we’re out and about. Sometimes I like to have a chewy treat on hand if he’s bored—on this trip, my sister presented us with a bag of dried chicken feet, which was most thoughtful.
    • Bedding: Although he’s happy sleeping all night on top of my leg (which is as comfortable as it sounds), I like for Titus to have his own space, too. I bring along his Camp Mat, but any blanket or towel would work as long as he knows it’s his.
    • Non-edible diversions: My dog won’t fetch balls or chase frisbees, but those are obvious bring-alongs for those dogs who do. He tends to destroy any soft toy he can get his teeth on, so I bring a couple of his own toys to amuse him (this time, he has his indestructible hedgehog and squeaky banana).
    • Poo bags: We keep these, and a bottle of hand sanitizer, in our Citizen Canine. One can never have too many poo bags.
    • Grooming needs: Corgis are fairly wash and wear, but they do shed a lot. On trips longer than two or three days, we bring a Furminator. A packet of special dog shampoo wipes is great for cleaning paws, faces, and other dirty bits, and of course, we bring along his toothbrush and dog toothpaste and a towel just for him. I’m a bit squeamish about cutting his nails, but if I wasn’t, I would most definitely bring a Dremel to keep them tidy.
    • First aid: There are canine-specific first aid kits on the market, and many are quite good. To be honest, though, for most minor first aid needs I just count on my personal ultralight kit. It has gauze and antiseptic and tweezers, as well as moleskin for sore paws. The included bandages will work in a pinch as a muzzle. I also pack a few dog items not included in the kit: a tick key, flea/tick and heartworm medication, and some Tramadol, which is a painkiller prescribed by our vet (for most one-time uses, low-dose aspirin can be used, but check with your vet to be sure).
    • Speaking of vets: I try to keep an updated copy of Titus’s medical records and proofs of vaccination on my phone.  This information is very handy to have for those just-in-case situations. If your dog has a microchip, knowing the number is also good in case he decides to hit the road without you.
    • Other stuff: My car’s backseat windows aren’t tinted very darkly, so I use a retractable window shade. It almost goes without saying that a flashlight and multitool are travel essentials in general, but they’re also useful for late-night dog walks, filing down a snagged nail, or other little dog-related tasks.

If you live in California—or are up for a drive—the next SoCal Corgi Beach Day is set for October 24, 2015. Find out more on Facebook.


“Cabin OK” and The Aeronaut (It’s OK)


You may have read about the “Cabin OK” initiative launched by the IATA — and the confusion surrounding it. Note this clarification excerpted from a recent New York Times article about the campaign:
“The new proposed guideline is not a maximum but an “optimum.” Airlines are still free to set their own, higher limits. You do not need to replace your bag. The association’s idea is simply that smaller bags, approved through an I.A.T.A. program and bearing a “Cabin OK” logo, should get priority to stay on board on those full flights where some bags must be gate-checked.”

Even though the campaign has been put on hold, we’re guessing you might be wondering if your Aeronaut 45/Aeronaut 30/Tri-Star/Western Flyer will fit the originally proposed (as of 06/11/2015) IATA “Cabin OK” sizer dimensions of 55 x 35 x 20 cm / 21.5 x 13.5 x 7.5 inches.

The short answer: Yes. If you have one of our bags, you’ve chosen soft-sided luggage and all of its advantages. Because bags like the Aeronaut 30, Tri-Star, Western Flyer and even the Aeronaut 45, are soft, you can often squeeze them into sizers they technically shouldn’t fit in based on their exterior dimensions (as long as you don’t overpack.)

But you know us: we like to really test things. Ben (our Materials and Facilities Manager; you know him from our Cord Zipper Pull How-To video) made a mock-up “Cabin OK” sizer:

TOM BIHN Aeronaut 30 Travel Bag "Cabin OK" IATA

Results below. For continuing coverage on this topic, follow One Bag, One World.

Aeronaut 30 Fits easily in the sizer, even fully packed.

Aeronaut 45 Fits in the sizer as long as you don’t overpack it (it shouldn’t bulge at all). For an easier fit: stow away the backpack straps and underpack it a bit.

Western Flyer Fits easily in the sizer, even fully packed.

Tri-Star Fits easily in the sizer; just be mindful to not overpack it.

Packing Your (Conference) Bag

Packing for a conference should be easy: grab some clothes and a copy of your paper and you’re off to the races. But what if last-minute packing sends you into paroxysms of panic, or if you’re trying to pack lightly enough that you can ditch your rolling carry-on?

If you’ve ever wondered, read on—but first, a quick note: we aren’t going to dictate what specific bag to buy or what clothing or office supplies to bring—that’s up to you. This guide is meant more as a thought exercise to encourage light(er) packing.

Your Bag
The bag you’ll carry is determined in large part by three things:

  • Type of conference:
    Is the atmosphere of your conference formal, business casual, or relaxed? Will all your time be consumed by meetings, panels, and lectures, or are there social and/or team-building activities as well? Will you be doing any sightseeing or personal travel before or after the conference? How you answer these questions will dictate the type of clothing you need to bring with you, and how much.
  • Location and length of trip:
    What is the average weather and temperature of the conference locale during the time you’ll be going? Are there any cultural requirements for dress you must observe? How many days and nights will you be gone?
  • What else you’re carrying:
    Will you have to bring a poster tube, AV equipment, or handouts? Are you carrying something bulky, like complimentary copies of a journal, or an illustrative model? Do you need to carry special medications, or food for a restricted diet? If you plan on carrying all of your stuff by yourself, you’ll have to take into account its relative weight and if you’ll have any difficulty managing it.

Running quickly through these questions might tell you that, for example, you’ll fly into Denver on a mild Wednesday morning in April, and attend informal workshops and a business dinner later that day. You’ll give one presentation and chair another on Thursday before going to a social event at Bronco Stadium. The conference will end with you attending panels as an observer all day on Friday; you’ll use most of Saturday to do a little sightseeing and light hiking before your late evening flight out.

Your Stuff
Having a handle on your activities will not only help you figure out what clothing and personal items to bring, but also get maximum utility from each thing, allowing you to carry less.

Still pretending you’re the conference-goer above: based on your planned activities, it might be tempting to bring up to four pairs of shoes, not counting the ones on your feet—not very practical for only four days of travel.

If you want to make light travel a priority, it may be worth investing in a pair of multi-function shoes that are appropriate for casual wear and light athletic/outdoor use. You’ll then only need to carry your formal business shoes. For very short trips, you may not need to pack extra shoes at all.

Determining what you need and what you don’t should also extend to the briefcase, backpack, or messenger bag you normally carry, and its contents. Conferences aren’t everyday events, and you may be able to leave some of your usual everyday carry items at home. You might even reconsider the bag itself—especially if it’s made out of leather, it could end up feeling very, very heavy by the end of a long travel or conference day.

Electronics can also weigh you down, and it’s hard to resist bringing a bunch of “in case” items. Ask yourself what tech you really, really need. You might find that a smartphone and tablet is enough to get you through. If you must bring your laptop to do work, you may not have time for your Kindle, Nintendo DS, and movie streaming device. Being honest about your conference habits is a great help when you’re stuck on whether or not to pack something.

Honesty is especially important if your packing tends to reflect the habits of an earnest and highly productive aspirational conference self who bears no resemblance to your actual conference self. Armed with the best of intentions, you grab that pile of grading (I can finish it on the plane!), the 800 page book you’re reviewing (I’ll read it between panels!), and the yoga mat you bought in 2007 (I’ll get up early and realign my chakras!). Before you know it, you’re wondering if you should bring the model U.S.S. Commodore Perry you’re building—and you see where this is going.

While a conference might be a great opportunity to catch up on grading/reading/writing, get to the gym, or finally finish up that mammoth knitting project, your own track record will tell you if it’s worth bringing those items with you. Your aspirational self probably doesn’t stand a chance if your actual self hangs out in the hotel bar with friends from grad school or watches the Law and Order marathon.

Finally, don’t discount the power of making a packing list. Upon your return, note all the things you used and didn’t use, or would have liked to have had. Especially if you travel infrequently, this written record of your past will help you make more informed packing choices in the future.

Putting it into Practice
The academics on the Forum have listed their top conference travel bag; here are some additional ideas (not exhaustive by any means):

The Pilot / Founder’s Briefcase / Empire Builder: These are no-brainers for carrying at a conference, but they’re also versatile enough to travel to a conference if you’ll just be there overnight. For inspiration, see how jmoz from the Forum packed his Pilot for an overnight meeting.

The Parental Unit: yeah, it’s a diaper bag, but no one at your conference will know! All they’ll see is a capacious tote-style bag with tons of room for all the stuff you’re bound to pick up at the publishers’ booths.

And here are a few ideas for “bag within a bag” pairings:

Western Flyer / Tri-Star with the Daylight Briefcase: You can use the briefcase as a packing cube for clothes, or you can use it to store your laptop, papers, and in-flight necessities: when you board, you can stash the larger bag in the overhead bin and store the briefcase under the seat in front of you. Or you could just one-bag: see how imperator packed for a 3-day conference with just his Western Flyer.

The Aeronaut 30 with the Co-Pilot / Pilot: This pairing follows a similar logic to the one above.  The Co-Pilot is small enough to slip in and out of the Aeronaut with ease; because of its size, the Pilot may perform better as a packing cube en route to your destination.

The Brain Bag with the Daylight Backpack / Daylight Briefcase: If you need a dedicated backpack, consider using the Brain Bag. While it can certainly work at the conference itself, if you want a low-profile option, either Daylight bag fits well inside.

If you need to pack a suit, here’s how using the Aeronaut (video) and the Tri-Star.

What bags do you carry for conference travel? Which items are invaluable, and which have you learned you can live without? Let us know in the comments.

A Videographer’s Bags For A Trip to India

I’m a TB newbie, and an instant believer.

It started as a search for new luggage — a bag I could take with me on any adventure.
After pouring over the internet, blog reviews, customer reviews, websites, and backpacking magazines I decided to purchase the Aeronaut 45. After an agonizing 3 days waiting for my new bag to arrive (someone should invent teleportation if only for postal delivery) it came. I opened the box, and it was love at first sight.

But this isn’t a story about the Aeronaut, though amazing (seriously amazing). This is a story about the Brain Bag with the Camera I-O insert.

I’m a videographer for a non-profit camp in central California who recently returned from a work trip to India. My colleagues and I traveled across the world to partner with Harvest India, an organization committed to meeting the needs of the poor and outcast in Southeast India. Our main aim was to dedicate a water well in a remote village and raise awareness in our camps to help meet the needs in India. There are over 100,000 villages in this area alone that still need access to clean drinking water; we want to educate and motivate the 20,000 students who attend our camps to help dedicate more wells.

Sarah's Trip To India | TOM BIHN

As I prepared for our trip I started looking for bag solutions. If you’re a traveling videographer or photographer you know the problem. You pack a backpack full of equipment you want to carry-on the plane with you (checking equipment can be risky). When you arrive on site however, you end up toting all of your equipment with you in the backpack. Not only is it heavy, but it’s cumbersome and hardly efficient when you need to swap lenses, batteries or the like.

After receiving my Aeronaut 45, I thought to look for a TOM BIHN solution to my traveling problems. Lo and behold, the solution was in front of me.

TOM BIHN created the Camera I-O bag as an insert for their Brain Bag. The Camera I-O can be removed from the Brain Bag and used separately from the backpack. Genius! Needless to say, I was ecstatic and grateful when Tom Bihn generously donated the backpack and bag for our trip.

I packed the Brain Bag with everything I needed, leaving plenty of room to spare. This came in handy later, when I wanted to carry souvenirs home with me. In addition to the Camera I-O bag, I chose to purchase the Verticle Brain Cell and Snake Charmer.

It was perfect.

A Videographer's Trip to India | TOM BIHN

Sarah's Trip To India | TOM BIHN

I always felt like my camera gear, laptop and personal items were safe. Not only were they safe, but accessible. Airport security was a breeze. When I first purchased the Snake Charmer, I thought of it as just bag for all the cables and chargers I needed. But did you know some international airports ask you to remove batteries and chargers when going through security? I didn’t; but the Snake Charmer was a life-saver! After a 16 hour flight, it’s nice to just pull out a little bag instead of dig through your whole backpack for cables.

I just dragged my Aeronaut 45, Brain Bag, Camera I-O, Snake Charmer and Verticle Brain Cell from California to India, through numerous airports, down dusty streets and through crowded villages. They all came back looking brand new. I know that not only are they going to last forever, but I will be gladly using them for a long time. On my next trip I plan to add the Packing Cube Shoulder Bag and Packing Cube Backpack to my arsenal.

Did I mention that the Brain Cell is my new favorite laptop case? Well it is. It sits beside me in Starbucks as I write.

The Camera I-O with everything else made my trip much smoother and helped me to focus on capturing the right footage. I can’t wait to see campers respond and lives change in India.

Sarah Tuch is a videographer and photographer for Hume Lake. When she’s not working she dreams about traveling the world and flying to new places.

Synapse 19 and the Climbing Gym

I'm a climber, and I'm lucky enough to have a gym just a couple of blocks from my house. Portland has great public transportation, so I usually take one of her bio-diesel busses when it's time to climb. No sense spending the gas for such a short trip.

There's a sizable walk from my house to the bus stop, so I wear my Synapse 19 to carry my gear. A couple of organizer pouches and packing cubes let me keep my harness, shoes, and chalk bag separate from the other things I never leave home without.

The harness goes in its own packing cube in case I find a belay partner. More often than not, I'm bouldering, so I keep my shoes and my chalk bag in separate packing cube. This one rides on top of the other in the main compartment of the Synapse, so I can take it out at the gym without having to rummage. I keep my Marmot Mica jacket on top in case of sudden rain, a daily certainty here in the Pacific Northwest.

Sometimes I get on the wall to find that my nails are a little too long to grip comfortably, so I bring a nail kit in the side pocket. This pocket also holds my iPhone and my keys (on a keystrap, of course.) The other side pocket holds pens, pencils, and a notebook. I'm a writer, and though I usually write using my iPad or iPhone, I can't let battery life dictate my ability to jot down a thought. Some ideas are better expressed in ink anyway.

The small pocket just holds a pocket pouch and my headphones. I like to listen to music on the bus and when I'm walking around, and it's the perfect pocket for earbuds. The pocket pouch keeps the cables orderly.

I run on the treadmill for about thirty minutes to get my heart rate up. It's a good idea to do some cardio before you climb, and I'm a little out of shape from my winter hiatus from climbing. After the run, I work my way through a bouldering circuit. Right now, I just climb every V-0 and V-1 I can find. I finish my workout with some top-roping (often with the auto-belay) and I'm up to a 5.9.

In case I need to take a shower after my climb, I have a 3D Clear Organizer Cube with toiletries (in GoToobs, a godsend) and a pack towel stuffed into the bottom pocket.

There's also a Klean Kanteen in the water bottle pocket, but that almost goes without saying.

The fact that everything fits comfortably inside my Synapse without feeling unbalanced or obtrusive is great, but that's quality I've come to expect from Tom Bihn. The bag's slim profile and smooth lines mean that I can squeeze my way past other commuters on the bus without disturbing anybody. But I want to talk about a couple of things that surprised me.

The side pockets are perfectly sized and placed to allow you to slide the bag off of one shoulder and reach across, one-handed, to unzip the pocket and access its contents. All without having to worry about things falling out! The pocket is angled so that everything sits secure in its side. It's making me re-evaluate the way I pack those pockets, since I've been loading them from the top down this whole time.

The water-proofing was critical when I got caught in a downpour trying to catch my bus. I stopped for a second to deploy my Mica jacket and make sure all of the zippers on my Synapse were tight, then booked it up the street for about fifteen minutes. My shoes were soaked, my pants were soaked, and I had to trust in Tom Bihn to keep my electronics safe and dry inside the bag.

I unzipped the side pocket first and found that my iPhone was still warm and dry. Inside the main pocket, my kindle and my iPad were just as fine.

Your mileage may vary, but I don't need a bag to be much more water-resistant than that. The next time I go out in the rain, I won't have any concerns.

Ultimately, the Synapse 19 is a perfect climbing bag, so long as you're only going to the gym. There's not enough room inside for a rope the other gear you would need to climb outside, but I'm thinking the Guide's Pack might be perfect for that.

Here's an itemized packing list, for those of you who are curious:

Synapse 19

Main Pocket

Marmot Mica jacket (not pictured)
Western Flyer Packing Cube, Small w/contents:
– Climbing shoes
– Chalk bag
– Medical tape
– Nail file
Tri-Star Packing Cube, Small w/contents:
– Climbing harness
– ATC-style belay device
– Locking carabiner

Side Pocket
Moleskine notebook
Pen and pencil

Side Pocket
Cork organizer wallet
Keys (not pictured)

Water Bottle Pocket
Klean Kanteen

Small Pocket
Pocket pouch with EarPods

Bottom Pocket
3D Clear Organizer Cube w/contents:
– GoToob – Dr. Bronner's Miracle Soap
– GoToob – Shampoo
– GoToob – Toothpaste
– Pack towel
– Travel toothbrush
– Floss

Synapse 19 and the Climbing Gym | TOM BIHN

To Europe With Aeronauts

Max and his fiance took a month off to backpack around Europe: London to Amsterdam, France to Italy, and Germany to Budapest. They took Aeronaut 45s, Aeronaut Packing Cube Backpacks, and an Ego and Super Ego. Cool thing: Max is a professional photographer and sent us a lot of great photos of their bags in use. Here they are!

Aeronaut 45 | To Europe with Aeronauts | TOM BIHN Bags

Aeronaut Packing Cube Backpack | To Europe with Aeronauts | TOM BIHN Bags

Aeronaut 45 in Navy | To Europe with Aeronauts | TOM BIHN Bags

Aeronaut 45 | To Europe with Aeronauts | TOM BIHN Bags

Aeronaut 45 and Night Flight Travel Duffle | To Europe with Aeronauts | TOM BIHN Bags

Aeronaut Packing Cube Backpack | To Europe with Aeronauts | TOM BIHN Bags

Aeronaut 45 and Ego | To Europe with Aeronauts | TOM BIHN Bags

Aeronaut 45 | To Europe with Aeronauts | TOM BIHN Bags

Aeronaut 45 | To Europe with Aeronauts | TOM BIHN Bags

Doug’s Last Minute Planned Trip To Indonesia and Malaysia

Doug's Last Minute Planned Trip to Indonesia and Malaysia | TOM BIHN

Doug sent us this email; it made our day and we thought everyone else might enjoy it as well.

Hi! I’d like to share my story with you — for several months this year I had been planning to take a big trip, but didn’t know if I’d be actually able to go until almost the last minute. In late August with about 2 weeks notice I realized I could go. I quickly called your customer service people and, despite being out of stock according your website, was able to order an Aeronaut 45 and a set of Packing Cubes, and get them in time to put them to use.

For 6 weeks I travelled solo through Indonesia and Malaysia living out of your Aeronaut 45 and the Co-Pilot bag. It was a perfect combination of size, weight, and adaptability as I travelled by plane, train, taxi, bus and foot.

I took pictures of the bags when I was at an ecolodge in Sebatu, central Bali, called the Puri Gangga. I am really grateful to your team for helping me get a bag on short notice, and I’d like to share some pictures with you.





Guest Post: Freedom is Found in Backpacks

On our patented “Gandhi-to-Mariah” scale of extravagance, my husband Rob and I reckon we’re somewhere around Woody Allen. For example, trips to nearby pretty towns often end up with us in the local furniture store, getting all excited about a coffee table or cushion with a cow picture on it. But we own five t-shirts each, two pairs of shoes, two sweatshirts and two pairs of trousers. Rob doesn’t even have any socks.

We were never huge fans of shopping or accumulating “stuff”, but becoming digital nomads has – to an extent through necessity – turned us even further away from that way of life. It’s still fun to coo over the latest workout gear or wireless-enabled whojamaflip, but we also know what really makes us happy: experiences, relationships and meaningful work – not possessions.

We’re not the only ones: it’s been proven that accumulating garages and cupboards full of stuff doesn’t make anyone wildly ecstatic. In fact, the buzz of a new purchase wears off almost instantly, and all these possessions end up tying people down – and bringing them down in the process. In a 2012 study called “Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century”, researchers at UCLA observed 32 middle-class Los Angeles families and found that all the mothers’ stress hormones spiked during the time they spent dealing with their belongings. Seventy-five percent of the families in the study could no longer use their garages to park their cars, because they were jammed with other things.

So…owning stuff doesn’t make us happy. But does not owning stuff make us any less happy than we could be?

For example, are we consciously less happy when we make salad in a saucepan because there aren’t any large bowls in our Airbnb apartment? No, of course not. How about subconsciously? I really do doubt it. Or how about the fact that I have five t-shirts on constant rotation – would life be so much more amazing if I had 15 tops instead? I used to own far more than 15 t-shirts, and I can’t remember having any “This is IT – the pinnacle of joy” moments of elation as a result.

But how do we feel when we’re sitting with wonderful friends in some cosy little Eastern European cafe? Or checking out all the wildlife while walking up the Colorado mountains? Or even just waking up to a new view every few months? At times like those, we’re so overwhelmed with happiness we feel like we could pop.

And then of course, there’s the freedom that comes with having so few belongings. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of travelling with everything you own on your back. You can go anywhere and do anything at a moment’s notice. You can pack up your life approximately 15 minutes before leaving for the airport. And then you can sail straight past that carousel and out into the world, knowing that you have everything you could possibly need, right there with you.

Mish and her husband Rob run a real estate company while they travel the world. They blog about their experiences on, and have just published a book on Amazon: “Travel Like A Pro: road-tested tips for digital nomads and frequent travelers“.

Daydreaming Hawaii in February

Thinking About Hawaii in February | TOM BIHN

Dan Bransfield is a freelance illustrator living in San Francisco.
Instagram: danbransfield
Twitter: danbransfield

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We’ve created a new page that invites you to “order” free materials that we can’t make use of but maybe you can:
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We’re retiring Iberian and Wasabi 200d Halcyon, as well as Nordic 400d Halcyon. More here.

Restocked this week: our Brain Bag and Synapse 25 backpacks and the Side Kick sling/waist/shoulder pack.

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